Timely Transportation

Published 6:00 pm Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Local senior citizens learned Tuesdaymorning about a transportation service that allows them to getwhere they need to go while helping them maintain theirindependence.

    Five County Community Transportation (FICOTRANS) employees visitedthe Jimmy Furlow Senior Citizen Center in Brookhaven to speak tosenior citizens and teach them about their organization andmission. Senior citizens were treated to refreshments,entertainment, testimonials and a guest speaker.

    FICOTRANS began its services in 1982 in Jefferson Davis County, andhas since expanded to Covington, Lawrence, Lincoln, Lamar, Marionand Pearl River counties.

    The organization specializes in getting senior citizens, who maynot have the ability or means to drive, to the places they need togo, like doctors’ offices or to their jobs.

    Transportation Services Director Joyce Strickland said theorganization was made to serve the community.

    “If FICOTRANS can provide services to just one person in thecommunities or counties we serve, then we know our services are notin vain,” Strickland said. “We’re here to make sure you get thequality, reliable transportation that you need.”

    Bessie Douglas of Lamar County shared her gratefulness of theservice with the audience in her testimonial.

    “No one appreciates the service in Lamar County more than I do,”Douglas said. “Before [FICOTRANS], if you needed to get this kindof service, you didn’t have it. Thank goodness we now have it.”

    Waxie Sutton, a passenger from Lawrence County, applauded thereliability of the transportation service.

    “Any time you need to go somewhere, you can know that you’ll getthere,” Sutton said.

    Jewelene Buie of Lincoln County explained her sentiments of theservice, especially the advantage of getting her to jobs she needsto have in order to survive.

    “Without FICOTRANS, I don’t know what I would do to get to myjobs,” Buie said. “Thank God for it and all of you.”

    Strickland said they were glad to be able to provide theservice.

    “So often we have people who say that if it wasn’t for us, theywould have no mobility means,” Strickland said.

    The guest speaker for the transportation fair was Charles Husband,operations management analyst principal of the MississippiDepartment of Transportation. He spoke about the benefits of usingcommunity transportation. He urged those who needed it to utilizethe service that’s available to them every Monday throughFriday.

    Tony Middleton, operations supervisor/dispatcher of FICOTRANS,described bluntly the mission of the transportation system.

    “To help as many people as we can, to get them where they need togo,” Middleton said.

    FICOTRANS gets 80 percent of its funding through the federalgovernment, and they come up with the remaining 20 percent throughfees based on the destination of customers.

    FICOTRANS operates a fleet of 14 ADA accessible vehicles thatprovide service to nearly 50 communities in the Southern andSouthwest regions of the state.

    While their main focus is providing transportation for seniorcitizens with collaboration with Southern and Southwest MississippiPlanning and Development Districts, they also have the Head StartTransportation program that transports children ages 3-5 to HeadStart sites.

    FICOTRANS also provides general public transportation in theseven-county service area. For more information on FICOTRANS and toschedule an appointment for their services, call 601-792-4196.